August 2003 found me at my mother’s place again to help celebrate her birthday. This would be her 99th one, a fact she guarded carefully. No one outside the family was to know her age. We were all sworn to secrecy on penalty of getting on her “list”. We all complied.
The Big Day came and found us all gathered at my sister’s home for the celebration. Mother had let me fix her hair for the occasion, up to a point. There were certain things she wouldn’t let me modify so the “look” was still quite dated. She and Miss Clairol would always have a personal relationship and she did her part to support the company.
The meal was full of family favorites (I was glad to help polish off my share and more) and there was a special cake to top it off. The candle fit in with the agreement we all had with the matriarch.
She was well supplied with gifts from the children and grandchildren. Always, she would say, “Now, you shouldn’t have done that!” but I think she secretly enjoyed every minute.
The celebration was over but the visit went on. The next day, she was persuaded to take her seat on the piano bench (which didn’t take much) and serenade us with the likes of “Nola”, “Hindustan” and “Edelweiss Glide”. She pressed me into service to warble “My Wonderful One”. Seems I could always sing better when she was playing. She was good at following me and I never had that confidence in other accompanists.
Later in the week, we went to an Asian buffet where people celebrating birthdays were treated to a free meal. The rest of us had to pay but my brother-in-law picked up the tab for me. I don’t know if he did the same for everyone. It was the first time I’d had any kind of sushi (sans the fish) or wasabi. Some kind of fried dumplings (meatless) were tastier, though.
Even though Mother felt sorry for the fish that were sure to be someone’s meal, she delighted in watching them swim around the tank. As she would say, she took her entertainment where she found it.
Once again, my visit drew to an end and it was back over the mountain and to work.
With fall approaching, Halloween signaled the rollout of the time of the year that everyone gorged themselves on junk. Besides being good for the dental business, it was also good for the hospital’s emergency room. There was an upswing in cases of indigestion, gastritis and gall bladder disease not to mention heart attacks. The general overindulgence compromised immune systems and the result was colds and pneumonia. I bought a good supply of cheap pens so, if someone contagious handled them, they could be discarded. It was cheaper to get rid of germs than have someone out sick and run up the percentage of overtime.
Even though I don’t “celebrate” Halloween, dressing up was encouraged at the hospital. That year, the people in Administration were going to be characters from the Wizard of Oz. I was pressed into service as Glenda the Good Witch. I bought the dress, borrowed the hoop slip and made my crown and the star on the “wand” from a gift bag. Someone brought the wig for me to wear. You can’t see my shoes but they were gold loafers like a pair my sister in the Great Northwest had. I’ll have to admit it was fun.
DD and I were having our regular visits. One Sunday, she told me that she and merm had heard of a new diet. It was only eating raw food. They were interested in trying it. To say I was horrified would be a gross understatement. I protested, “You will ruin your health! There’s no way that can be sustainable!!” I was just about sick when we hung up. Her stint in the West had changed her way of thinking. What would she come up with next?